No matter how small your business is — a one person show or an office of ten — there are several “green” strategies you can adopt in your business. The following suggestions are taken from the article, “Ways to use less paper”, published by the 3M Commercial Office Supply Division.
1. Plan each communication. Define your purpose and audience. Before you begin a document, consider its life cycle from creation through disposal.
2. Compose and review letters and other documents on the computer rather than on paper.
3. Be brief. Get organized, then get to the point. If necessary, use an editor. Keep letters and memos to one page.
4. Use the back side of waste paper for scratch paper.
5. Redesign letterhead to condense headers (printed top material) and allow for narrower margins. Use up the old inventory, however.
6. Use E-mail for routed information. If you must use paper, put the distribution list cover sheet on the same page as the message. Other options include putting the cover sheet on the front with the message on the back, or using a Post-it routing/request note.
7. Examine publication formats and frequency. Publish information on the Internet as the first choice of distribution. For mailed items, send a two-sided, 8-1/2 x 11 newsletter, rather than a four-page, fold-out version (cutting content accordingly).
8. Redesign and rewrite forms to reduce paperwork and form length. Eliminate unessential duplicates. Many companies are using electronic forms (via the Internet), which saves even more paper because no inventory is maintained.
9. For mailing use the smallest envelope possible. Fold pieces to fit into standard business size envelopes.
10. Use the lightest weight paper possible.
11. For large mailings, compile a prototype. Then combine pages to save paper and postage.
12. Use shredded waste paper to replace purchased packaging materials.
13. Transmit efficiently:
* Use the telephone if a verbal message will suffice
* Use voice mail or e-mail for short messages
*Install new software and hardware to expand your choices in data processing and document creation.
14. For mass mailings, to eliminate labels or long distribution lists, use the mail merge feature in word processing.
15. Make reports and data available online.
16. Before running a large number of copies, do a one-page test of copier settings.
17. Don’t throw away slightly light or dark copies for internal use.
18. Make double-sided copies, especially for large documents.
19. Avoid making extra copies. Make extras later if you need them.
20. Get training if you are unsure of copier features or how to use them.
21. Prevent jams and toner problems by cleaning and servicing copier regularly.
22. Post a list of paper-saving copy ideas at every copier.
23. Remove outdated or unessential listings (internal and outside the company) from your mailing lists. better yet, don’t distribute some information at all; just let people know it’s available”
24. Remove your name and company name from mailing lists. Write “Refused – Return to Sender” on unwanted junk mail (First Class Mail only).
25. Use a centralized bulletin board to post one copy of an announcement as opposed to sending individual copies. When individual contact is required, route a single copy. Sometimes it’s more effective to call a special meeting to make an important announcement.
26. Each time you reach for a piece of paper, THINK! You can make a difference.
There is nothing more chilling for a small business owner than the realization at tax time that you owe money — big money. You may be considering a variety of options such as paying Uncle Sam with your credit cards, dipping into your retirement accounts, or the big no-no of withholding payroll. All have been done before and all have major disadvantages to them that do not make them the best option.
So what can you do? You can approach the IRS and ask for an installment plan. Generally, the IRS says you cannot be turned down for an installment agreement as long as you don’t owe more than $10,000 and you’ve filed your returns on time and paid any tax due during the previous five years. You also cannot have entered into a previous installment agreement during that time. And you must pay what you owe within three years.
If you do owe over $10,000, you may still qualify for an installment plan, but you will need to seek special permission from a IRS district office and probably submit additional financial statements to qualify.
Though you may liken the idea of calling the IRS and asking for assistance to that of pulling out your own tooth, the possible benefits are too many to ignore. The sooner you act, the more options you’ll have available.
I ran across the following business expense tax tip in Diane Kennedy’s Loopholes newsletter. Even if you have already filed your taxes this year, it may be useful to keep in mind for next year.
“If you travel for business, the cost of your travel and the hotel is lodging, not entertainment. If you categorize the deduction as entertainment, you’re going to get a 50% reduction in the amount of the deduction. Code it instead as lodging and you’ll get a 100% deduction.”
“If you furnish food for a meeting, it’s a 100% deduction. If it’s a meal out for business, it’s a 50% deduction. So, a weekly management meeting catered by a local restaurant is a 100% deduction, but going out to lunch with your accountant is just 50%…”
“If you bring in coffee and bagels for Friday morning meetings, they are also 100% deductible. Code it to meetings, not meals.”
Frequently, the words advertising and publicity are used interchangeably by business owners. However, it is important to note that they are two different things which must be handled accordingly.
Think of advertising as choosing the media vehicles to get your message out to the public. You are in control as the buyer in determining how you will get your message across, which will ultimately increase your customer base. Will you buy radio time, run newspaper ads, and/or advertise on billboards? How much? These are examples of issues related to advertising.
Publicity is different. With publicity, you are not in control. Sure, you may put the information you want known in the form of a press release, but that isn’t a guarantee that it will get picked up and written about by reporters or your particular industry. With publicity, you are no longer the buyer so you need to convince the media that what you have to say is newsworthy to THEIR buyers. That isn’t always as easy to do.
Both are important elements in promoting your business and increasing your customer base. Knowing how to effectively incorporate both into your business can prove challenging, but will definitely allow you to reap the benefits if mastered.
Businesses across the U.S. are feeling the impact of the housing crisis, a slowing economy and the stock market’s roller coaster ride in many ways. Increasingly, more small to medium-size businesses are finding it tougher to get loans. Available credit from commercial lenders appears to be drying up as lenders hesitate to extend credit, particularly to small business owners who tend to use their homes as collateral for their businesses. With foreclosures reaching a record high, lenders apparently do not want to roll the dice and take the chance of ending up with another home should that small business owner default on their loan.
Small business — defined as those with 500 employees or less — represents 99.7% of all employer firms and generates 60 to 80% of the new jobs annually, according to the Department of Commerce. I would think given the down turn in the economy and the push to turn things around that the last thing lenders should be doing is cutting small business owners off at the knees.
True, lending guidelines and regulations have to be tightened in all quarters. The subprime meltdown was a painful lesson to learn for most lending institutions. However, now is not the time for lenders to scream the sky is falling and slam the door on entrepreneurship. Due diligence on the part of lenders and a solid business plan and financial statements should continue to rule the day, not panic and fear of what may happen.
I am sure everyone knows a young person that seems to spend hours glued to their PlayStation, Gamecube or Wii. Your first reaction, after checking to see if they are not catatonic and have eaten in the last 12 hours, might be to exclaim loudly that they are wasting their life and that nothing good will come from their obsession. But wait….you may well be wrong.
According to the book, The Kids are Alright: How the Gamer Generation is Changing the Workplace by John C. Beck and Mitchell Wade, video gamers will bring an unique set of skills to the corporate world. And just what might those be you ask?
Video gamers potentially:
- Place a high value on being an expert in a particular field/area.
- Develop an unprecedented ability to multi-task.
- Learn to creatively solve problems.
- Have little to no fear of competition.
- Calculate risks and know the importance of getting a good return on investments.
- Enjoy coming out on top.
All qualities that corporate world loves to see in their employees, managers and executives. So, next time you consider hiding the Xbox, think again.